What does an ex-offender look like?

If I were to say the word ex-offender, what picture would you get in your head? What physical characteristics would you give him? Would he have tatoos? Would he have large muscles? Would he have a mustache and a beard? Would his pants hang below his butt? Would he have gray hair? Would he have on glasses? Would he have a mouth full of gold teeth? How old would he be? WOULD HE BE BLACK?

I ask these questions because we have a preconceived notion that all "ex-offenders" fit into those categories. You would never guess that you see "ex-offenders" every day. You see them at the grocery store. You sit next to them at church. You sit next to them in the movie theater and you have no idea that they have been convicted of a crime. A society that has made its mind up that all "ex-offenders" are bad people and need to be feared is a society that will continue to have a very high crime rate. Why? Because when that idea has been spread and is widely accepted as true, all of a sudden, the citizens begin to cut the "ex-offenders" off and make them outcasts.

When you put "criminals" in a position that they are not afforded job opportunities, when times get hard, what do you think they are going to do? If Johnny's daughter needs school supplies and Johnny can't find a job, what do you think Johnny is going to do? He doesn't want to climb in your back window and steal your valuables, but what OPTION does he have? His time in prison gave him an opportunity to think and a chance to get his head on straight, but as soon as the potential employer looks at his application and sees that the dreaded box is checked (Have you ever been convicted...), the interview is over. He has applied everywhere that he can think of, and nothing. His probation officer is riding him because he doesn't have the $45 he is required to pay each month. And his daughter still needs her supplies. So you tell me. What is he to do?
Pastor Brown